SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — The Better Meat Co. has opened a fermentation plant that will produce Rhiza, a new mycoprotein ingredient that may be used to enhance or replace meat in a variety of applications.

Rhiza has a neutral flavor and meatier texture than extruded plant protein isolates commonly used in meat substitutes, according to the company, with more protein than eggs, more iron than beef and more fiber than oats. Additionally, the ingredient is free from the major allergens and low in fat with no cholesterol and no genetically modified organisms.

“If we’re serious about lessening humanity’s footprint on the planet, we need to get serious about our food-print, and that means reducing our reliance on animals for food,” said Paul Shapiro, chief executive officer of Better Meat Co. “Rhiza offers a cost-effective opportunity for food companies seeking to improve sustainability while giving their customers that meaty experience they crave.”

Founded in 2018, The Better Meat Co. produces plant-based formulations that are blended with beef, pork, chicken or fish to create healthier, more sustainable products that score high in taste tests. Its first major partnership led to the launch of Perdue Farms’ Chicken Plus line of tenders, patties and nuggets, which now are sold in 7,100 grocery stores.

 The new facility, serving as the company’s corporate research and development headquarters, initially will employ 16 people and is expected to produce thousands of lbs of finished product per month, using a controlled indoor farming process that maximizes efficiency. Rhiza is produced by feeding starchy foods like potatoes to fungi roots in large fermentation tanks and is ready to harvest within hours.

Rhiza may be used to enhance ground beef, fish, pork or crab, or as a replacement for burgers, steak, chicken, crab and fish. The ingredient also may also be used as an egg replacer in baked foods, such as brownies or energy bars.

“We’re excited about The Better Meat Co.’s innovative Rhiza mycoprotein ingredient,” said Kevin Ladwig, vice president at Johnsonville Sausage. “Its high-protein, high-fiber nature makes it an attractive option both for meat enhancement and plant-based products, too.”

Monica Talbert, chief executive officer of The Plant-Based Seafood Co., said, “We’ve been very impressed with the quality and versatility of Rhiza and are excited to incorporate it into our plant-based crab cakes, as well as other innovative plant-based seafood products coming out later this year.”